08 July 2007

Simon Says.... Disney is full of shit.

On Friday night, went into my Hotmail account, and found two messages, the first from a friend of mine, who'd just visited the Disney web-site, and found out about a live-action re-make of the 1960's animated series, Underdog, due to be released by Disney on 3rd August of this year.

Another friend of mine, to whom the same message had also been sent, posted a reply that stated just what his opinions were of the re-make, and, indeed, of the various tv show re-makes that Hollywood has seen fit to trot out over the past decade or more.

It is, I believe, a lovely little minor classic of American invective.

The last entry reproduced here belongs to my friend who sent the original message, and conveys his full reactions to "Underdog's" trailer, after having viewed it on the Disney site.

The entries are separated by a goodly amount of space between 'em, and are proceeded by their original titles. This includes this post's title, which's taken from the second essay's.

Will give a brief comment or two of my own on this topic towards the bottom of this post.>


There's no need to fear....

The Underdog movie is here!


Due to come out August 3.

Although I love Underdog (actually he's probably my favorite superhero of all time - to me, he was more human than most 'human' superheros), I think the idea of portraying him as a live, speaking beagle wearing a cape, in a live action movie, is a bit absurd. It looks like a step down from the original Underdog. And too bad they won't have Wally Cox to do the voice.

Simon Says.... Disney is full of shit

What else from this "film" will we see?
A real German shepherd with a bad New York accent saying "Get im boys!"
or a large poodle (wearing a wig taken from Eva Gabor's rotting corpse) that sings "ohhh where has my underdog gone?"
There is a great need to fear as we did with the Bullwinkle movie, or Mr Magoo or Dudley Do-Right films , just to name a few.
Not to mention all the other failed old-tv-shows-turned-into-movies that they keep on doing.

I thought they would go the way of Iceage or happy feet to appeal to kids and their parents who remembered the show as kids as we did.

As imdb reports they have Simon Barsinister as the villain (of course being live action)
And James Belushi... did he do enough enough dog pix with the 18 K-9 films?

What's next?
a live action film about 2 gophers in Arizona chased by a John Wayne coyote and his "bully!" colonel?
"what did he say?"
"Him say new underdog film stinks from gopher shit!"

RE: Simon Says.... Disney is full of shit

I viewed the trailer of this so-called movie and it majorly

First of all, much of the charm of Underdog was Wally Cox's
voice. In this film, Underdog's voice is done by a totally
nondescript, Middle American voiceover actor, complete with all
the lame "clever" jokes and "hip" comments you can imagine, like
a watered-down Bart Simpson. They've eviscerated Underdog's
character, and replaced him with the generic, sarcastic "young
white male" protagonist which Hollywood deems is easiest to
identify with for the majority of the brain-dead American
moviegoing public.

Truly pathetic.

Speaking for myself here, I can't say that I've seen the trailer for "Underdog". Visted the link given in the first message after I got it, but the damn site was taking too long to down-load on dial-up for my taste, so I gave it a miss.

However, I'd have to agree with my second friend's general contention about tv show-inspired film re-makes over the past decade and more.

It's not just that the producers, directors and writers of these are solely monkeying around with beloved, or at least somewhat well-liked, television properties of past decades for fun and profit(Well, mainly profit, I think).

A re-interpretation of a classic film, tv series, novel, etc, if well-done, with careful attention paid by the producers, director, writers, and performers in a re-make, to the qualities in the original, such as writing, direction, musical score, etc, that made it work to start, can be quite good, and bring a new life and audiences to a property that might otherwise fade away.

That said, most re-makes tend to rather awful, precisely because most of the elements that went into the original tend to be either ignored or given damned short shrift by those behind the former.

Oh, the character names and the most basic of the original's plot situations might be kept. However, much of the rest is simply either discarded, or watered and dumbed -down by the re-make's production crew in order to make the property seemingly more "relevant" to to-day's audiences, and, hence, more salable.

What often results is a film that might do well enough at the box office on initial release, and perhaps even better in DVD, cable, satellite tv, and overseas releases, but, in a few years time, dates far more badly than the original property that inspired it, and is, at best, mediocre, and destined to be forgotten.

So, why are film studios like Disney, re-making these properties to begin with????

Well, for the same reason that just about every film production company and studio makes and distributes films in general, to make as much money as they possibly can off of it.

But, over the past twenty-five to thirty years, the costs of making a mainstream motion picture in Hollywood have increased enormously, and especially in the last fifteen years.

Just the very fact that a film that costs $60 million US to make can now be considered to be a "medium-budget" film should give some indication of just how much the costs of Hollywood major studio film-making have skyrocketed since the mid-1970's.

They include the costs incurred from the start of a film's pre-production through all stages of production, including post-production editing, advertising and marketing, and the sheer size and scale of these costs, which happens for a variety of reasons it'd take far too long to ennumerate here, will generally tend to discourage investment of money, time and other resources on relatively un-tried, novel, or experimental stories and approaches to film-making, in favour of the safe and familliar.

This has, in one form or another, been generally the case with commercial feature film-making world-wide since the early 1900's.

But, film budgets in the past were generally much lower than to-day's, even taking into account general cost inflation and currency devaluation, and there was generally at least some greater amount of room for stories and film-making approaches, at least within the limits imposed by studios, production companies, and censorship of various sorts, than there has been for around thirty years now.

In that span of time, Hollywood's emphasis has turned to making either enormously budgeted blockbuster films designed, and, so the producers and studios hope, and guaranteed to get arses into seats, or to re-makes of older films and tv shows that have, however dimly, a name-brand recognition that will, again, get arses into seats.

All fine and dandy, except that when such properties become the majority out-put of any film industry, sooner or later, the public, or at least a fair portion of the film-going, video-or-DVD-buying or renting public, etc, eventually starts to tire of that sort of film, because the product starts to look, feel and sound as much alike as a batch of aluminium cans, fresh out of the factory.

Now, it's not that the public then goes looking for "art-house" films or anything of that sort. But, they at least want something, however inchoate the audience's desire for it might be, that they can emotionally connect with, spend a couple of hours being amused and entertained by, and that doesn't insult their intelligence overly much.

If studios and production houses keep on offering the same old mush in spite of the public's desire for something newer and better than the former's current offerings, they will have no one but themselves to blame if and when the public simply stops attending, buying or renting their products.

People may indeed get used to a particular item or way of doing something, and certainly do crave the familiar whenever possible. But, they are also curious beasties, and, eventually, will tire of anything familiar, especially if it's served up more often than even the most conservative person would like.

That's why film- and television show-making are, and will remain, crap-shoots, no matter how many focus groups, surveys and such are done by studios, networks and production houses, and an over-emphasis on the tried-and-true, just as much as a greatly radical subject matter and film-making approach, will not necessarily make an audience take the time, trouble and incur the financial cost of getting to a movie theatre and taking 90 minutes-two hours out of their lives to watch any given flick.

Playing it safe, especially when the qualities that have made a familiar property work in the past are either greatly reduced or gone, hasn't, doesn't and won't guarantee box-office success, especially over the medium-to long-term.

There has to be room for new sorts of film and television stories, and for new approaches to film and television-making. Otherwise, even the most conservative audiences in the world will eventually tire of the products being offered them, and simply stay away in large numbers.

As well they should.

Over-familiarity, especially with mediocrity, can definitely bring contempt, and it's a lesson that Hollywood and other film-making centres, would be well advised to learn.

Here endeth the lesson.

Be seeing you.

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